On the Production of Counter Accounts from the Inside: How cashiers collectively deviate from gendered norms at work

The Essex Accounting Centre (EAC) at the Essex Business School warmly invite you to join guest speaker Professor Claire Dambrin as she explores her work on emancipatory accounting.

  • Wed 17 Nov 21

    14:00 - 16:00

  • Online

    Join this seminar

  • Event speaker

    Professor Claire Dambrin, ESCP Business School

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars
    Essex Accounting Centre (EAC) Research Seminar Series

  • Event organiser

    Essex Business School

  • Contact details

    Dr Chaoyuan She

The aim of the Essex Accounting Centre (EAC) research seminar series is to support our world-class research activities in five key areas: accounting and global development; capital markets, audits and regulation and reporting; publicness and resilience, precarity, exclusion and social justice; and environment, climate change and vulnerability. The seminar series is also expected to promote interdisciplinary research that links the work of the members of the centre with others both within the university and with external institutions. 


The Centre for Accountability and Global Development (CAGD) is a vibrant research hub of Essex Business School that promotes debate and seeks solutions to various issues of global interest. CAGD adopts an interdisciplinary approach to research focusing on accounting aspects across various societal spheres (i.e. social, business and public governance), in both emerging and advanced economies contexts.


Seminar abstract

This presentation aims at contributing to research on emancipatory accounting (Gallhofer & Haslam; Lehman et al, 2016; Lehman, 2019) by analysing how cashiers, a low-qualified accounting occupation, collectively deviate from gendered norms at work.

The studied organisation operates in the building distribution industry, a highly masculine environment. In this organisation, women are considered more suitable for cashier’s work because they are seen as more caring, sensitive, emotional, organised and not enough physically strong to take on other jobs in stores.

These gendered norms consolidate a sexual division of labour, cashiers being a highly feminised occupation held at 95% by women in the studied organization, while sales and logistics jobs are respectively held at 87% and 94% by men.

Following on Butler’s work on gender performance and vulnerability in resistance (Butler, 1990; Butler, Gambetti, & Sabsay, 2016; Roberts, 1991), we analyse how cashiers deviate from such gendered norms.

We use an ethnographical approach that includes non-participant observations of four cashiers’ task force meetings spread over 7 other months, direct observations drawn from a 5-month immersion in a store, 10 interviews and document analysis.

We show that;

  1. cashiers make their accounting skills recognised as social constructions rather than responses to natural predispositions, in particular regarding their supposed “lack” of physical strength. They also collectively claim more visibility in the eyes of other dominant occupations thanks to
  2. the strategic use of accounting knowledge (like customer credit balance) and
  3. accounting tools (like dashboards).

In each case, the deviation they operate is a subversion of their accounting role while aiming at being considered as a salesforce.

We analyse their deviation efforts as a production of gendered counter accounts.

Lastly we show that these practices have mitigated outcomes: the collective of cashiers which enacts such deviation transgresses the gendered norms assigned to it but, at the same time, emphasizes the vulnerabilities of its occupation and the fragility of its subversion (in our case cashiers, valorise their sales activities but doing so they make visible the non-significance of their sales performance in accounting terms).

Our paper offers two main contributions: we extend Butler’s work on gender performance (Butler, 1990, 1997; Butler et al., 2016) by analysing collective initiations of occupational subversion and emphasizing the gendered dimensions of supportive infrastructure (Butler, 2016).

We contribute to the accounting literature on counter accounts (Gallhofer & Haslam, 2003; Himick & Ruff, 2019; Lehman et al, 2016; Lehman, 2019) by emphasizing how marginalized groups produce counter accounts within an organization. Doing so we put forward the gender deviation occurring in the production of counter accounts.



How to attend this seminar

This seminar is free to attend with no need to register in advance.

We warmly welcome you to join us online on Wednesday 17 December 2021 at 2pm.

Please do share this seminar with your friends, colleagues and classmates.


Speaker bio

Claire Dambrin is Professor in Management Control at ESCP, Paris campus.

She earned her PhD from Paris Dauphine University in 2005 and was professor in accounting at HEC Paris from 2004 to 2012.

She was a visiting researcher at the Department of Accounting of the London School of Economics (2005) and at the Stan Ross Department of Accountancy of Baruch College (CUNY) in 2008-2009.

At ESCP, she ran the PhD program (Paris campus) from 2017 to 2020.

She serves in several editorial boards including that of Accounting, Organizations and Society, Management Accounting Research and Critical Perspectives on Accounting.

Claire Dambrin’s research is interdisciplinary and deals with the sociology of accounting calculative devices.

In particular, she is doing qualitative and critical research on performance measurement systems.

More recently, her work has also focused on accounting information systems, evaluative infrastructures on the platform economy as well as gender dimensions of accounting tools and the accounting profession.

She has published in various top academic journals including;

  • Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal;
  • Accounting, Organizations and Society;
  • Critical Perspectives on Accounting;
  • Human Relations;
  • Management Accounting Research
  • Work, Employment and Society.


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